Made back in 1986, this very simple CG short is where Pixar's current logo comes from. It demonstrates that you don't need very complex elements or a high degree of 'bang-whizz' effects to create an adorable personality that hooks into the emotions.
It is based around two Luxo desk lamps - Luxo being an American company that specilises in making them. The larger lamp playing the part of the adult, and the smaller - Luxo junior - playing the part of the small child.
Total length of the short is two minutes. As is normal for CG of the 80s, there is no speech at all. Simple sound effects and a constant musical score provide the audio half.
The scene opens on a wooden desk or surface of some kind. An electrical socket on a pole is visible in the background - the wall is not present and the desk just fades into darkness. We never see the front of the desk either. In the foreground is a large Luxo lamp, plugged into one half of the socket, whilst a plug in the other half, leads to a cable running out of view to the right.
A child's toy ball, soft and full of air, trundles into view, and the lamp tilts to follow the movement. It bends down and tilts to one side to examine the ball, giving the strong suggestion that it is alive. Then, flicking its cap back, the lamp punts the ball back in the direction it came from - off the screen to the right.
The ball rolls back, and the lamp head tilts to follow again, as the ball bumps into its base. Looking up then down again, the lamp flicks the ball back once more. It returns again, this time rolling right past the lamp, and leaving the screen to the left.
The large lamp jumps back, as a tiny junior version of itself hops in from the right; its cable flexing as it jumps on its single 'foot' to try and get momentum to chase the ball. Looking up at its 'parent' the little one waggles its stand playfully then hops after the ball.
The ball rolls back, followed by a really excited little lamp. Like a puppy or small child, utterly engrossed in the ball. Every aspect of its body language (such as it is), reinforces that fact.
It flips the ball to its parent, who flips it back. The little light then jumps on the ball, and rides it bouncing up and down, having a great time. That is until the ball punctures and deflates under the lamp. Upset, the little one tries to flip the deflated ball again, but it just lays there. It looks up aty the bigger lamp hopeful, but the larger one just shakes its head.
Dejected, the junior lamp shuffles off.
The larger one looks at the deflated ball to see if there is anything it can do to repair it, but has to duck out of the way mid-examination as a beach ball rolls past. The enormous ball is followed by a happy junior lamp. As both exit the screen at speed, the larger lamp rises up, faces its bulb to the camera, then looks down, shaking its head in exasperation as the camera fades out.
Luxo Jr proved to be such a hit that a series of follow-up animations have been produced over the years - shorter shorts for one liner gags in the main. They have been featured on various children's shows for a minute of fun, and Pixar officially replaced its logo with one featuring the little lamp within a year. That has remained to this day.
In 2007, MIT created an actual robot desk lamp that moves to where it thinks light is needed. This was inspired by Pixar's animation. It just took a while for technology to catch up.